Last year I became a Florida Mediator. Effective mediation is needed in so many areas of our legal system but particularly within the
family arena. As an attorney I participated in many family mediations which usually ended up at an impasse – probably because “family mediation” within the court system has become simply a procedural step prior to or during the trial of a matter. Parents come to mediation locked up, hurt, angry, and with no real incentive to work things out. Neither their lawyers nor the system does anything to nurture these hurting families. Instead, the legal system expects these families to be able to resolve their differences in a one-day, three-hour mediation setting which usually spirals into fighting or one parent simply giving up and relinquishing everything. The “best interest of the children” becomes simply a tagline used but not truly put into consideration.
Currently, nothing within the family law system focuses on healing the family. Nothing focuses on giving a voice to the family unit. Nothing focuses on appealing to the conscious – to the heart. It is cold without any recognition for the beauty of the family as a gift from God.
My business partner, an LCSW, and I, both Christians, have formed a Mediation firm with an emphasis on mediating marital conflict/crisis situations, parent/child issues, divorce/custody issues, and other family issues. We are Sanchez and Baietto. We see mediation in this arena as a process as opposed to a one-day settlement day. We are firmly rooted in being solution-oriented as opposed to counseling. Our goal is to help families by reminding them of the benefits of family, our innate call to marriage and family, our roles within the family, and in particular by not only recognizing the dignity of each member of the family but recognizing the dignity of the family unit itself.
This is a new, bold option that we believe can fill a desperate need in our society. Furthermore, we both know in our hearts that as Jesus is a mediator between us and the Father, we too must mediate for families through Christ to remind them that family life is sacred and it is perfect for us because it comes from our Loving Father. Our society degrades the family and we want to uplift it and respect it in the manner it deserves. The family is the root of society and of the world and, most importantly, it is a gift that our Father gave us to cherish and protect.
Brenda A. Baietto, J.D.